If you can crochet a simple chain stitch, you can make attractive necklaces with little to no jewelry-making experience and very little cost. With the wide array of yarn and beads available, you can style your creations to suit every mood and outfit, from boho or casual to bridal-party elegance. Crochet necklaces don't require a lot of yarn, so you can use up scraps or buy small quantities of specialty yarns. And because they're quick to make, you can whip up some necklaces as gifts for all your friends at the holidays.
Materials and Supplies
You'll need a crochet hook and yarn or thread, such as specialty yarn, crochet thread, hemp cord or jewelry wire. You'll also need scissors to cut the yarn and a yarn needle to weave in the ends. Add beads to the yarn, if desired, for sparkle and glamour. If you're making a wire crochet necklace, you will need a jewelry clasp and round nose jewelry pliers with a wire cutter.
It's important to match the beads and the stringing material. In addition to the size and weight of beads -- larger, heavier beads should go with thicker yarn or cord, for example -- you should consider style, color and intended use. For example, hemp cord and chunky wood or glass beads go well together, but such casual beads would look out of place on delicate wire. Additional examples of successful pairings include:
Ladder yarn in a variegated colorway with large, faceted acrylic beads that pick up one of the colors in the yarn. For example, use Eros yarn in the "Dazzle" colorway with acrylic beads that echo the turquoise blue color of the yarn.
Glitter or sparkle yarn with pony beads. For example, match Lavish sparkle yarn in light pink with iridescent, pastel pony beads.
Jewelry wire in silver or gold with faux pearls in graduated colors of your choice.
Many of the available necklace patterns give suggestions for bead and yarn choices.
Simple Chain Stitch Necklace
A simple chain stitch is all you need to show off a specialty yarn, such as fun fur, ribbon yarn, ladder yarns or glittered yarn. Choose a slightly larger hook than recommended for the yarn you select and chain loosely for 24 inches or your desired length, leaving an 8- to 12-inch tail on both sides of the chain. Make sure the chain is long enough to slip over your head when the ends are joined. Fasten off and use the tails to tie the necklace ends together. You can leave the tie in a bow or thread the tails in a yarn needle, weave them into the chain and trim. To make a more dramatic necklace, hold two or three yarns of different types but related colors together and chain with a hook size K or larger.
Basic Bead Crochet
Most bead crochet designs require stringing the beads before you crochet. Thus, you'll need to know how many beads the project requires, which is usually stated in the pattern. Count out the beads and include some extras. Make sure that the bead holes are large enough to pass easily over the yarn. To help string the beads, use a small crochet hook, such as a size 0, that will fit through the bead. Place the bead on the hook, grasp the end of the yarn with the hook and pull it through the bead. For smaller beads and thread, use a beading needle or fold a 6-inch length of wire in half, place the thread in the wire fold and use it like a needle to string the beads. You can also use the thread end as a needle by dipping it in clear nail polish and letting it dry.
Once you've strung the beads, make ordinary chain stitches as directed by your pattern. To start the first beaded chain stitch, slide one bead up the thread as far as it will go. Holding the bead below the hook, yarn over and pull a loop through to complete the chain stitch, making sure the bead is snugged beneath the two top loops of the stitch. Continue making beaded chains or alternating them with plain chain stitches as your pattern requires.
If you run out of beads before you complete the chain, you may be able to add more by unwinding a yard or more of your thread and cutting it from the spool. Thread beads onto the loose end and continue crocheting. To keep the beads from falling off, knot the loose end of the thread or clip it with a clothespin.
Wire and Bead Crochet
Crocheting beads on jewelry wire is similar to crocheting beads on yarn, but the feeling is different. Work slowly on a practice piece so you can become familiar with the different tension of the wire. Rubbing your hands with cream or lotion before you begin will help the wire slide smoothly through your fingers.
Using jewelry wire in 24 or 26 gauge, string the beads and crochet according to your pattern's directions. Most wire crocheted necklaces are finished by attaching a toggle clasp to the ends of the crocheted piece. After you finish off the last chain stitch, pull the wire to secure the chain and trim the wire end to about 3 to 4 inches. Thread the first half of the toggle clasp on one end of the necklace and fold the wire over so that the clasp is about 1/4 inch from the last chain stitch. Bend the wire end beneath the clasp and wrap it four to five times around the necklace end of the wire. Cut the excess wire and push the cut end into the last chain stitch to hide it. Repeat to attach the remaining half of the toggle clasp to the other necklace end.
Going Beyond the Basics
As you gain experience and become familiar with basic crochet stitches, such as single crochet and double crochet, you may want to expand your repertoire to different crochet styles. For example, you can crochet colorful thread into a chunky gold chain, adding color and style to update an existing jewelry piece. Make a crocheted bib and attach it to a jewelry chain for a unique statement necklace. Crochet a choker with a scalloped, beaded edge. These are just some examples of necklace patterns that can be completed by any advanced-beginner or intermediate crocheter.
Jan Burch has written about home, garden, wellness and other topics since 1992. Her articles have appeared in ByLine, Living Natural and New Mexico Woman. Based in Albuquerque, Burch is a Feng Shui consultant and Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner. A life-long crafting enthusiast, she holds a master's degree from the University of California.